Poem Sampler

Baseball Poems

Poems to celebrate the national pastime.

Baseball Poems

Players Famous and Infamous
From Casey of Mudville to girls charging the little league field.

Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer

And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow. 

A Late Elegy for a Baseball Player” by Felix Stefanile

cleats on his shoes, 
and a hometown shoulder, 

A Ballad of Baseball Burdens” by Franklin Pierce Adams

So pitch that every man can but admire
      And offer you the freedom of the town—
This is the end of every fan’s desire. 

First Girls in Little League Baseball” by J. Patrick Lewis

Now what you hear, as flags unfurl,
Is “Atta boy!” and “Atta girl!”

 

Metaphors for Life
Poets playfully measure baseball’s symbolic weight.

Analysis of Baseball” by May Swenson

Ball hates
to take bat’s
bait.

In Baseball” by Baron Wormser

It’s the keenness of conflict that appeals

Baseball” by Gail Mazur

this is not a microcosm,   
not even a slice of life 

Baseball and Classicism” by Tom Clark

Every day I peruse the box scores for hours   
Sometimes I wonder why I do it

 

Dreams and Fantasies
Baseball imagery seeps up from the subconscious.

 “A Poem About Baseballs” by Denis Johnson 

i know i will   
miss, because i always miss when it
takes so long.

Dream in Which I Love a Third Baseman” by Lisa Olstein

Off-field, outside the park, beyond
the gates, something was burning.   

Clothespins” by Stuart Dybek

Bushes, a double,   
off the fence, triple,   
and over, home run.

Grand Slam” by Marjorie Maddox

this is the moment replayed on winter days
when frost covers the field,

 

Dad Days
Fathers, sons, and daughters on the field and in the stands.

Sign for My Father, Who Stressed the Bunt” by David Bottoms

                     I could homer
into the left-field lot of Carmichael Motors,
and still you stressed the same technique,

Poem for My Father” by Quincy Troupe

but you, there, father, through it all, a yardbird solo
riffing on bat & ball glory, breaking down the fabricated myths

The Interpretation of Baseball” by Carole Oles

And go back to the bleachers at Yankee Stadium
where you took me at 7 though I was not the son

Bad People” by Mark Halliday

Kenny’s bottle smashed on home plate and Jack heard in the sound
the absurdity of all his desiring since seventh grade,

  

Spectators Sporting
Watching the game becomes a sport unto itself.

The Crowd at the Ball Game” by William Carlos Williams

So in detail they, the crowd,
are beautiful 

 “7th Game  :  1960 Series” by Paul Blackburn

men’s eyes are blank
their thoughts are all in Pittsburgh

Old Men Watching Baseball” by Oliver Evans

Uneasy knowledge in them of a time
When they, like these, could hit and fitly run

Tao in the Yankee Stadium Bleachers” by John Updike

The thought of death is peppermint to you
when games begin with patriotic song
and a democratic sun beats broadly down.

 

ARTICLES & BLOG POSTS
Poets and players on attentiveness, idleness, intimacy, and other parallels between poetry and baseball.

Baseball and Verse, from Tinker to Evers to Big Papi” by Levi Stahl

Baseball’s very rhythms are those of poetry, acknowledging that if everything can change in a moment, then attention to those moments is an essential duty. 

Para Rumbiar: Robert Creeley in the outfield” by Fernando Perez

I write from Caracas, the murder capital of the world, where I’ve been employed by the Leones to score runs and prevent balls from falling in the outfield. 

Yo-Yo’s with Celery: Ron Silliman and Jim Behrle take in a minor league baseball game

Poets historically can be pretty fun ballgame companions, and not only if they are on hallucinogens at a Red Sox/Yankees game like Ted Berrigan and Harris Schiff in the great Yo-Yo’s with Money.

Say Hey: Of pens and pennants” by Ron Silliman

What sets these poems apart from the bulk of baseball poetry, and from the ideology of individual accomplishment that is so much a part of the ethos of the sport, is that they’re about failure, and about intimacy, implying a deep, even necessary connection between the two.

Strangers in the Nest: A poet and a sportswriter go on a macrophenomenal tour of everyday irrelevance” by Anselm Berrigan and Bethlehem Shoals

And in baseball, there’s so much space in the sport. The pitchers are doing a lot physically, but at the same time, they’re also standing there. You have to get interested in a slower sense of time passing. 

Originally Published: October 3, 2012

COMMENTS (5)

On October 9, 2012 at 10:33am Michael Gushue wrote:
Bill Knott's "Mitts and Gloves" and Jack Spicer's poems
"for The St. Louis Sporting News" must be included in any
self-respecting survey of poems about baseball.

On October 12, 2012 at 10:20am Kenneth SHare wrote:
The poem "Pitcher" by Robert Francis needs including (in American Poetry, Twentieth Century, Vol Two, p.328)

It seems to me that like Frost's comment that his poems have literary criticism in them, Francis could be writing about poetry as much as baseball. Read and enjoy.

Pitcher

His art is eccentricity, his aim
How not to hit the mark he seems to aim at,

His passion how to avoid the obvious,
His technioque how to vary the avoidance.

The others throw to be comprehended. He
Throws to be a moment misunderstood.

Yet not too much. Not errant, arrant, wild,
But every seeming aberration willed.

Not to, yet still, still to communicate
Making the batter understand too late.

On October 12, 2012 at 12:53pm John Ridland wrote:
And mention should be made of B. H. Fairchild's "Body and Soul" in THE ART OF THE LATHE (1998), in which Mickey Mantle at 16 shows up a team of hard-working machine operators in a weekend pick-up game. It ends:
"I know this man with the half-orphaned children and/
worthless Dodge has also encountered for his first and possibly/
only time the vast gap between talent and genius, has seen/
as few have in the harsh light of an Oklahoma Sunday, the blonde/
and blue-eyed bringer of truth, who will not easily be forgiven." [Note: it's "forgiven" not "forgotten."]

On October 13, 2012 at 2:02pm Donna Beaver wrote:
You have to add to the reading list the wonderful book
of baseball poetry, "Baseball Haiku" edited by Cor van
den Heuvel and Nanae Tamura; a unique collection of
baseball haiku from both America and Japan. You can
listen to editor, Cor van den Heuvel on the podcast
Haiku Chronicles, "baseball haiku" episode, talk about
baseball haiku, with readings by Cor and other poets
featured in the book at:
http://www.haikuchronicles.com/2009/11/e7-baseball-
haiku/

On March 18, 2014 at 8:37pm shan wrote:
I am doing a baseball themed anthropology for school. Any
suggestions of good poets or not good poets?

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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